We decide to make a pot roast mainly because our husband spent the vast majority of his childhood summer vacations sharing the backseat of a silver stationwagon with his two brothers, while the family made their way from Philadelphia to Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina. They were on their way to visit their beloved Grandma Mooney. The ride took a minimum of 9 hours but usually ended up being 12 or more laborious, soul-crushing hours in the car.
Some things could be counted on: bickering over who had to sit in the middle, their father's collection of prepared mixed tapes of jazz and classical music for the journey (this was pre iTunes), listening to the complete Star Wars recordings on cassette tape (recorded off the radio), and Grandma Mooney putting a pot roast on about five hours prior to their arrival.
The culmination of each road trip was arriving in North Carolina fuzzy headed, cooped up, sitting down to eat leathery slices of roast, and then falling dead asleep.
Well, this is not that pot roast recipe -- but an ode to the memories of summer pot roast all the same.
This is Garlic Lover's Pot Roast
from The Martha Stewart Show
(February 2009) though it is actually an Emeril Lagasse recipe.
The recipe calls for a three-pound boneless beef chuck roast, and ten cloves of garlic peeled and halved. Using a sharp paring knife make 20 small cuts into the roast about 1 ½ inches deep. Insert the garlic cloves as deep as possible and season with salt and pepper.
In a Dutch oven heat two tablespoons of oil on fairly high heat and brown the roast on all sides. Then add one cup each of chopped onion, carrots, celery, and 2/3 cup water. Adding red wine is optional - we did. Then cover, and either cook on the stovetop reducing the heat to medium low or throw it in the oven with a temperature of 300. (We opted for the oven and put our temperature at 350). The roast should cook for three to three and a half hours.
When the roast is done it is so tender we could cut it with a butter knife. The garlic inside the roast becomes sweet and mellow and delicious, mixing with the pan juices and the onions, carrots, and celery. The browned crust of the meat has absorbed the savory flavors of all the other ingredients. It is delicious.
While eating, we talk about the silver station wagon making its way to North Carolina, three boys listening to a Star Wars recording (where Han Solo was voiced unfortunately by the actor who played "Face" on the A-Team), and the whole ordeal of the family ritual fading away the next morning as soon as they wake up and take off for the beach.